GIS Career Awareness Learning Module # 3
Version 3.0 November 26, 2007
The Cutting Edge and Future of GIS
• Estimated Time: 1.50 hours
• Password Required: Please contact with Dr. Tsou (email@example.com) or
Ting-Hwan Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org) for student accounts and passwords to
complete this module.
• Learning Goal: This module will introduce various GIS applications which
involve the cutting edge of technological innovations currently in use or being
developed for the near future. Research applications that will be introduced
include Mobile GIS (Computerized Navigation and Habitat monitoring of
Mission Trails Regional Park), and Participatory (Collaborative) GIS applications
(Mapping Where You Want to Visit in the World in Web-Based Collaborative
Maps). The module is designed to acquaint students with some advanced and
applied uses of GIS that will be prevalent in society, government, and industry in
the near future.
• Platforms: PC, Mac, or UNIX.
• Software Tools Required: Web browser with high-speed Internet access. A
multimedia video player is required. (Formats available: .QT (Apple
QuickTime), .WMV (Microsoft Windows Media), .MPG (MPEG Video)
Note: This Web-based GIS learning module was developed with support from a National Science
Foundation – Advanced Technological Education Program Research Grant (NSF-ATE DUE # 0401990):
“A Scalable Skills Certification Program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).”
( http://geoinfo.sdsu.edu/hightech )
ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS ON THE SEPARATE
Section 1 – Mobile GIS - Small and Portable GIS
Part 1 – Mobile GIS – Application Scenario: Computerized Navigation
Mobile GIS technology is basically taking a smaller version of powerful GIS mapping
tools into the “field.” It usually consists of four components:
1. A small and portable computer like a PDA (personal digital assistant) or laptop
which runs the software application and stores information about places in
computer memory (Figure 3-1).
2. GIS software that manages and maps the information about places (Figure 3-2).
3. A GPS Receiver (Global Positioning System) (Figure 3-3) that helps the GIS
software figure out where you are located.
4. A computer database (computer data) (Figure 3-4) that holds all of information
about places. This database part can be in the computer’s PDA or on a network
like the Internet.
Figure 3-1: A Pocket PC-Personal Figure 3-2: Mobile GIS Software
Digital Assistant (PDA) (Arc PAD)
Figure 3-3: A Portable GPS Receiver Figure 3-4: A Computer Database
You can also think of Mobile GIS as a very powerful map that knows where you are and
has information stored in it about many places.
A-1: Name one significant difference between using “Mobile GIS” versus
using a “paper map” and a “list of data?” (In the example above, the list of
data---the database---was a phone book.)
Part 2 - Application Scenario: Plant Species Monitoring the Fragile Habitat of
Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego
Let’s quickly look at an application of Mobile GIS, recording the growth of “invasive”
plant species. Invasive plants grow into the territory of native plants and can harm the
native plants by taking up precious and limited nutrients and the water from the native
plants. Thus, native plants may be endangered and it is important to protect these plants.
The following is a screen shot of an actual Mobile GIS application running on a Pocket
PC (Figure 3-5). The image displayed on the screen was taken with a GIS-related
technology called “Remote Sensing.” In Figure 3-5, the red dots represent vegetation and
the white lines represent destructive BMX bike trails.
Figure 3-5: Mobile GIS Software Displaying Locations and Types of Ground Cover
This Mobile GIS application will help the park rangers track the growth, movement, and
types of vegetation and make decisions about what to do if an invasive plant species is
taking over or if the BMX riders are destroying any of the precious vegetation within the
• Navigate to http://geoinfo.sdsu.edu/hightech/LearningModules/MTRP and watch
the video demonstrations of Mobile GIS for habitat monitoring (or watch this
video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ij_ZZLMzxc)
A-2: What else do you think Mobile GIS can be used for and why would it be
useful? Be specific and think about how a portable computer, mapping
software, database, and GPS (displaying a user’s live location) might help
Section 2 – Participatory (Collaborative) GIS – Application Scenario: Web-Based
Community Mapping of Where You Want to Visit in the World
STEP 1: VIEW CURRENT COLLABORATIVE MAP
o A Collaborative GIS Map
In this section you will create a feature and add it to a Web-based collaborative GIS map.
Your feature will be one of many that will become a permanent part of an online GIS.
Before we begin, let’s define some terms.
o Map Features
A map feature is a natural or man-made object or place of interest. It is something that
exists at a specific place in a specific time. An example of a feature can be a single school,
a single business, a city, a landmark, or even a country. A feature class is the entire set of
grouped features on the map. A GIS map may have a feature class of schools, creeks, and
rivers, a feature class of landmarks, a feature class of countries, etc.
In the map you will be contributing to, the feature that you will be mapping can be any
natural or manmade place or object in the world. Examples include “The Eiffel Tower in
Paris,” “The Great Wall in China,” or “The State of Hawaii.” Notice that the examples
included unique places (cities, states, etc.) as well as unique “objects” (The Great Wall,
etc.) around the world. Please carefully think about the following question. You will
create a feature on the Collaborative GIS map based on this response.
It will be very helpful to examine the map you will be creating a feature for. We will also
describe some of the map controls at the same time.
• Navigate to the following URL: http://geoinfo.sdsu.edu/hightech/LM3/
• Click on the link called, “STEP 1: VIEW CURRENT COLLABORATIVE MAP”
(See Figure 3-7.)
Figure 3-7: Clicking on STEP 1: VIEW CURRENT COLLABORATIVE MAP
The actual Collaborative Web map should eventually appear along with all of the
mapped features (the places or things people want to visit).
Figure 3-8: The Collaborative Web Map
o Map Navigation and Zooming In and Out
• Click on and drag the map with your mouse from one side to the other to move the
• Click on and drag the little overview map in the inset at the bottom-right corner to
move the map.
• Click on the pan controls on the top-left of the map window to pan the map.
• Double-click on any place on the map and the map will zoom in and center on that
• Use the zoom control on the left to zoom in and out.
“Zoomed in” is not available for the entire planet. Extremely high resolution is, generally,
only available for the larger cities and notable places of interest.
o Investigating Existing Mapped Features
Now, you are going to view a couple of features that have been mapped by other students.
You can look at the details of a feature by clicking on its name in the feature list (see
Figure 3-9) or by clicking on its red feature marker. The feature list on the right quickly
lists all of the mapped places.
Figure 3-9: Mapped Feature Details
The creator of the feature provided most of the information associated with the feature.
They provided the location in latitude and longitude, named it, described it, and explained
why they want to go there. They also selected a Website with more information about the
feature and selected an image from the Web to be displayed with the feature.
After a couple of minutes of exploring the map, you will be creating a feature for, decide
on a unique place or object to visit in the world and answer the following question:
B-1 (“Name Your Chosen Place”): If you can visit anywhere or anything in
the world, where or what would YOU visit? Name it in 10 words or less.
Example: The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
Notice the question number above (B-1). You will use the answers to these questions to
map your selected place based on these question numbers.
o Map Feature Attributes
Feature attribute data consist of any information related to the associated feature. Think
of it as specific information about individual features. If a group of features are streets,
the attribute data can include the name of the street, the number of lanes, whether the
street is a one-way street, the length of the street, etc. Another example can include the
attributes of a group of countries. The attributes can include the country name, the
population of the country, the type of government, the date the country was founded, etc.
In this collaborative GIS map, the features will consist of “places or objects that people
want to visit.” Your feature will be one of many on a single Web map. Now, you are
going to include some attribute data with your feature.
We will now create some attributes for your feature.
B-2 (“Description of Your Chosen Place”): Briefly (in three sentences or
less) describe the place or object that you specified in Question B-1 above?
Example: The Eiffel Tower is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars
beside the River Seine in Paris. It is the tallest structure in Paris and among
the most recognized symbols in the world. It is named after its designer,
engineer Gustave Eiffel (from the Wikipedia Website.)
B-3 (“Why Do You Want to Visit This Place or Object?”): Why do you
want to visit the place or object that you specified in Question B-1 above?
Please limit your response to a maximum of two sentences.
Example: It is a very famous landmark which I have seen in many movies.
Your responses to questions B-1, B-2, and B-3 above are some attributes that are
associated with your chosen place. Other attributes include you, the author of the feature;
the date it was created; and the location of your chosen place. The location is probably
the most important attribute of any feature in a GIS map.
o The Location Attribute
In order to map your chosen place which you described above, you need to know its
approximate location, the latitude and longitude coordinates. In this collaborative GIS
map, you can quickly and easily obtain them by simply entering the name of the place.
There are other options for obtaining latitude and longitude coordinates for more
advanced user, and the advanced options are listed here and are explained in more detail
in the Appendix of this document:
Advanced Options for Obtaining Latitude and Longitude Coordinates (Detailed
instructions are in the Appendix)
1. Finding and using latitude and longitude coordinates from a Web search and
converting coordinates, if necessary
2. Obtaining the latitude and longitude coordinates by using the U.S. Street Address
(Can be used only when your chosen place is located in the U.S.).
3. Obtaining the latitude and longitude coordinates by zooming in and clicking on
your chosen place directly on a Web map.
STEP 2: SEARCH FOR THE COORDINATES OF MY CHOSEN PLACE
• Navigate to http://geoinfo.sdsu.edu/hightech/LM3 and click on the link called,
“STEP 2: ……” (See Figure 3-10, See Figure 3-11.)
Figure 3-10: Clicking on STEP 2:
Figure 3-11: STEP 2: search for the coordinates of my chosen place
• Think of the general name or location of your chosen place; enter it in the Place
Name field. Examples can include the cities or towns (Moscow, San Diego, etc.);
countries (Tibet, Liechtenstein, etc.), and specific features (Disneyland
(Amusement Park), Okeechobee (Lake), Everest (Mountain), Yellowstone
(National Park), etc.). To get the most accurate location, you may have to enter a
single word instead of multiple words.
• After entering and searching for your chosen place, now it will be your
responsibility to scroll through the list and find the closest match, if any.
Following the student instructions in yellow, verify that your place is in the
appropriate country. As an example, in Figure 3-12, you will notice that there is a
Moscow in Russia AND Idaho.
• If you were searching for Moscow, Russia, click on the link, “Go to Step 3 and
Preview THESE Coordinates on a Map.” If the tool did not generate appropriate
results or no results at all, return to STEP 2 and try a different name or
combination of names.
Figure 3-12: Latitude and Longitude Coordinates Search Results for Moscow
B-4: What word or words did you enter in the text search field in STEP 2:
SEARCH FOR THE COORDINATES OF MY CHOSEN PLACE?
STEP 3: MAP & PREVIEW THE COORDINATES OF MY CHOSEN PLACE
Your browser will now be directed to the STEP 3 Web page where you can preview the
coordinates you have selected in STEP 2 (See example in Figure 3-13).
Figure 3-13: Example of Previewing Coordinates for Moscow in STEP 3: MAP &
PREVIEW THE COORDINATES OF MY CHOSEN PLACE
• Now we need to zoom in and click on the map to get more accurate coordinates of
this “smaller” map feature. Once you single-click on another location on the map,
new coordinates will be generated (Figure 3-14).
Figure 3-14: Zoomed in and Clicked on the Center of Red Square (Moscow, Russia)
• If you do not know what the place you’ve chosen looks like or its precise location,
you do not need to zoom in that close. You can just obtain for the coordinates for
its general location (like the city or town in which it is located).
• Now, after you are satisfied with the latitude and longitude coordinates which you
generated in STEP 3, copy them down below (Do not forget any negative signs, if
any, and, copy down the ENTIRE decimal number for each).
B-5 (“Latitude Coordinate”): Write down the latitude coordinate of the
place or object you want to visit:
LATITUDE (in Decimal Degrees only and don’t forget the negative sign, if
B-6 (“Longitude Coordinate”): Write down the longitude coordinate of the
place or object you want to visit:
LONGITUDE (in Decimal Degrees only):
STEP 4: SEARCH FOR AN IMAGE OF MY CHOSEN PLACE
Once you are done copying down the coordinates, you will quickly search for and select
an image on the Web to associate with your selected place. (This is an advanced function
and is not recommended if this is your first time using the collaborative mapping system.)
• Click on the link called, “STEP 4: ……” (See Figure 3-15, Figure 3-16).
Figure 3-15: Clicking on STEP 4: SEARCH FOR AN IMAGE OF MY CHOSEN
Figure 3-16: STEP 4: SEARCH FOR AN IMAGE OF MY CHOSEN PLACE
• Enter a very specific name or words to describe your chosen place in the STEP 4
search field. If you browser allows it, a new window will pop up with a list of
image thumbnails (Figure 3-17).
Figure 3-17: Image Search Results (Images that are larger than 75k is too big)
• Browse the thumbnail images and choose one too. (Two examples are highlighted
in Figure 3-17). Do not select any images that are over 75k. Click on the image
you are interested in (See Figure 3-18).
Figure 3-18: Source Image Website with “See full-size image” URL Link
• Click on the link named “See full-size image” to obtain the image URL (Uniform
Resource Locator) -- also known as Web address.
• The resulting URL is the Web address of the standalone image. You will need to
copy down this ENTIRE URL, including the http:// part. As an added “safety
measure,” leave this Web browser window (with the standalone image and its
URL) open for the rest of this activity so you can copy and paste the Web URL of
the image when you need it a little later (See Figure 3-19).
Figure 3-19: Standalone Image URL (Web Address)
B-7 (“Image of Your Chosen Place”): Write down the full Web URL
(including the “http://” part) of the image. (If you obtained a valid URL, it
should end with one of the following: “.png”, “.gif”, “.jpeg”, “.jpg.”):
B-8 (“Description of the Image of Your Chosen Place”): Write down a few
words or a very short sentence describing the image in Question C-7
Example: The Red Square in Moscow, Russia
Remember: KEEP THE WEB PAGE WITH YOU IMAGE OPEN!
STEP 5: SEARCH FOR A WEBSITE RELATED TO MY CHOSEN PLACE
Now, you are going to select a Website that is associated with your chosen place. A Web
link will be created with your mapped feature that will take users to more information.
• Click on the link called, “STEP 5: ……” (See Figure 3-20, Figure 3-21).
Figure 3-20: Clicking on STEP 5: search for a website related to my chosen place
• See Figure 3-21; choose a search engine; enter a VERY SPECIFIC name or words
to describe your chosen place. In this collaborative Web mapping application, we
have provided you with Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, and Google.
Figure 3-21: STEP 5: SEARCH FOR A WEBSITE RELATED TO MY CHOSEN
• From a list of Websites, you need to select a SINGLE Website to associate with
your chosen place. If you like one, copy down the entire URL of the Website.
B-9 (“Related Website”): Write down the full Web URL (including the
“http://” part) of the.
B-10 (“Description of the Related Website”): Now write down a few words
or a VERY short sentence describing the Website you selected in Question C-9
Example: Official Red Square Website of the Russian Tourism Office
STEP 6: MAP MY CHOSEN PLACE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE
Now, you have all of the information you need to instantly map your chosen place for the
entire world to see. Your mapped feature will be on this Web map for everybody to see.
• Click on the link called, “STEP 6: ……” (See Figure 3-22).
Figure 3-22: Clicking on STEP 6: MAP MY CHOSEN PLACE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE
• Once you have logged in, a Web page should appear with your name and a bunch
of input form fields (See Figure 3-23, Figure 3-24).
Figure 3-23: STEP 6 Log In Page
Figure 3-24: STEP 6 Input Form
Using what you wrote down in Questions B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-8, B-9, and B-
10. Please DO NOT forget to click on the button, “CLICK TO SAVE YOUR WORK
NOW” whenever you finish filling in the form fields above it.
We will now describe this process step-by-step:
Question B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7 (Figure 3-25, Figure 3-26, Figure 3-27, Figure
3-28, Figure 3-29, Figure 3-30)
Copy down your response for the Questions. Save your work by clicking on the button.
Figure 3-25: Response for Question B-1
Figure 3-26: Response for Question B-2
Figure 3-27: Response for Question B-3
Figure 3-28: Response for Question B-5
Figure 3-29: Response for Question B-6
Figure 3-30: Specifying an Image for Question B-7
• After clicking on the link, you will be taken to a Web page where you can specify
the Web address of the image you chose for Question B-7 (Figure 3-31).
Figure 3-31: Submitting URL (Web Address) of Image Specified in Question B-7
• After entering the ENTIRE URL (including the “http://” part), click on the Submit
URL button; the Figure 3-32 should appear.
Figure 3-32: Image URL Accepted (Arrow Indicates Instructions to REPLACE Image
• If you are happy with the image you have specified for your chosen place, click
on the link, “Click Here to Use this Image and Continue Creating a Map…” and
you will be taken back to the form which you were working on previously (Figure
• If you need to replace or re-enter the URL, scroll down to the bottom of the image
and repeat this step.
• If there is any problem with your image URL, follow the instructions that appear
on the Web page.
Figure 3-33: After Successfully Specifying an Image URL for Question B-7
Question B-8, B-9, B-10 (Figure 3-34, Figure 3-35, Figure 3-36)
Please Copy Down your response for the questions and Save your work by clicking on
Figure 3-34: Response for Question B-8
Figure 3-35: Response for Question B-9 (Be sure to include the “http://” part)
Figure 3-36: Response for Question B-10
• Now, it’s time to create your feature! Click on the button to permanently map
your chosen place (Figure 3-37).
Figure 3-37: MAP MY CHOSEN PLACE
If you followed all of the steps correctly, the Web page should return to the collaborative
GIS Web map with all of the mapped features visible (Figure 3-38).
Figure 3-38: Checking Out the Newly-Mapped Chosen Place!
Alternatively, click on the actual “place marker” on the map to bring up the information
about your chosen place. Zoom in and examine your mapped chosen place. Be proud that
you have carried out all of the steps necessary for the world to see your contribution to
this map made by several people.
Now, you are almost done with this learning module. There are just a few more questions
left. Please answer the following:
B-11: Briefly write down the steps you took to obtain the latitude and
longitude coordinates of the place or object you want to visit.
B-12: Explain why mapping your chosen place can be called “Public
Participatory GIS,” “Collaborative GIS,” “Collaborative Mapping,”
“Community Mapping,” or “Community GIS.” Why is it useful?
Section 4 – Written Assignment
Now that you have seen several examples of cutting-edge and upcoming GIS
technology, it is time to take a few moments to think about and write a summary
paragraph about the future of GIS and what might the future technology be useful
for. Please spend 30 minutes writing a summary paragraph (250 words) about what
you have learned in this section.
C-1: In your paragraph, quickly describe the three cutting-edge GIS
applications that were discussed. Recall that they included Mobile GIS and
C-2: In your paragraph, please give one example use not discussed for one
of the two GIS applications described (Mobile GIS and Collaborative
Mapping.) Describe how it will help and be useful to people, businesses, or
C-3: In your paragraph, describe what place you mapped with the
Participatory GIS map and how could such a technology be useful for
mapping other things besides where you want to visit. Could this Web-based
technology be useful to other people, businesses, or governments? Why?
This learning module was developed specifically for you---the students---in order to
expose you to GIS and related geospatial technologies.
GIS and related geospatial technologies, similar to what you worked with in this learning
module, are major components of one of the most important new industries for career
growth. Businesses, organizations, and governments are increasingly seeking skilled
talent in this industry.
Now, to benefit other students and the authors of this learning module, you are required
to finish this Student Survey and please send it back to the San Diego State University
NSF-ATE team. We would greatly appreciate your input. Please take time to answer
these questions as openly and honestly as possible. They will not affect your grade or
score. You can provide your feedback to your teacher/educator along with the learning
module answers on the separate answer sheet.
Thank you for helping us improves our modules!
S-9: What did you like best about this learning module three? Why?
S-10: What did you like least about this learning module three? Why?
S-11: Was there anything that was really hard to understand or difficult to complete in
this module three? What was it? Why?
S-12: Is there anything in this learning module three that we can add, exclude, or change
to make it better? What is it? Why?
The Appendix provides a brief review of latitude and longitude coordinates and provides
some alternative and advanced techniques for finding latitude and longitude coordinates
of your chosen place.
Latitude and Longitude Coordinates
Figure A-1: Parallels of Latitude (Left) and Meridians of Longitude (Right)
Latitude and longitude, like x and y coordinates on a Cartesian map, can uniquely specify
a location on the spherical globe that we call earth.
Figure A-2: Parallels of Latitude
Latitude lines are imaginary lines on the earth's surface. They run east and west around
the globe and tell you your distance north or south of the Equator. As you can see in
Figure A-2 above, latitude lines encircle the entire globe like a ring. Think of them as
belts around the earth. The latitude lines (also known as parallels of latitude) range from
0 to 90 Degrees running north or south of the equator. The equator, which runs exactly
between the North and South Poles, is at 0 Degrees latitude. If you move north toward the
North Pole, the latitude will increase -- in other words, it will become greater (or more
If you go to the very “top” of the planet---where the North Pole is located -- you will be
at “90 Degrees north latitude.” You can also call this “90 Degrees latitude” since all
latitude values north of the equator are considered positive values (See Figure A-1).
If you go to the very “bottom” of the planet---where the South Pole is located---you will
be at “90 Degrees south latitude.” This is often called “-90 Degrees latitude” since all
values south of the equator are considered negative values (See Figure A-1). Notice the
negative sign is a substitute for the “south” hemisphere designation.
Figure A-3: Meridians of Longitude
Longitude lines are imaginary lines on the earth's surface that run from pole to pole
around the globe and tell you your distance east or west of the Prime Meridian (Figure A-
3). Each longitude line does NOT encircle the entire globe like a ring. They only go from
pole to pole.
The Prime Meridian is an imaginary line that runs north to south through the Royal
Astronomical Observatory in Greenwich, England. The Prime Meridian is designated as
0 Degrees longitude.
If you go west or east of the Prime Meridian, the longitude values will decrease or
“60 Degrees west longitude,” which lies close to the east coast of the Unites States and is
west of England across the Atlantic Ocean, can also be described as “-60 Degrees
longitude” (See Figure A-1) because it is west (or to the “left”) of the Prime Meridian.
Notice the negative sign is a substitute for the “west” hemisphere designation.
“60 Degrees east longitude,” which lies close to the east coast of Africa and is east of
England, can also be described as “60 Degrees longitude” (See Figure A-1). It is a
positive value because it is east (or to the “right”) of the Prime Meridian.
“180 Degrees longitude” is the farthest meridian of longitude from the Prime Meridian
(See Figure A-3). It is also called the International Date Line. It is an imaginary line that
runs approximately in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Asia and North America.
It can be described as +180 or -180 Degrees longitude but it is usually just called “180
Degrees longitude” or the International Date Line. The International Date Line is
approximately an equal distance away from the Prime Meridian going either east OR
This concludes our brief review of latitude and longitude coordinates. Now we will
describe how you can obtain latitude and longitude coordinates by using alternative
means such as using coordinates from a Web search, using coordinates not in Decimal
Degrees format (in Degrees Minutes Seconds format instead), or using latitude and
longitude coordinates obtained from a U.S. street address.
Obtaining and Using Coordinates from a Web Search
Latitude and longitude coordinates can be used to specify a unique point on the earth’s
surface. One of the best ways of obtaining coordinates is by doing a Web search at a
search engine like http://www.google.com. All you really have to do is do a Web
search of the name of the place or object you are looking for followed by the two
words latitude and longitude If the place is not too obscure, you will probably find some
or many Websites with very accurate coordinates for it. You can then use these
coordinates to map your feature. We’ll show you how to do this later with another map
and other tools specially designed for doing this.
As an example, we did a quick Google Search for the coordinates for the famous Golden
Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California (Figure A-4).
Figure A-4: Google Search for Latitude and Longitude Coordinates for the Golden
On the very first page of search results, we got several sets of accurate coordinates
Figure A-5: Latitude and Longitude Coordinates for the Golden Gate Bridge Found
with Google (Note the 2 Sets of “Decimal Degree” Coordinates Circled in Black and
the Single Set of “Degrees Minutes Seconds” Coordinates Boxed in Black)
So, by checking out the first set of coordinates form Figure A-5 in our special map tool,
which you can use later, you can see that the latitude and longitude coordinates that were
found on Google for the Golden Gate Bridge were really accurate (see Figure A-6).
Please note that the negative sign, if any, is EXTREMELY important. If you don’t copy
the negative sign, you feature could be mapped to the “opposite side” of the earth by
mistake (See Figure A-1 again if you forgot why).
Figure A-6: Checking Coordinates Found with Google for the Golden Gate Bridge
Using Coordinates in Degrees Minutes Seconds Format
Now, this is an excellent opportunity to talk about that strange set of coordinates which
we found with our Google search. While we prefer that you find “Decimal Degrees”
coordinates, you will often encounter latitude and longitude in “Degrees Minutes
Seconds” format. As an example, the boxed coordinates in Figure A-5 are the following:
Longitude: -122°28'40" Latitude: 37°49'8"
Believe it or not, that is the equivalent of -122.47777778 Degrees Longitude and 37.81888889
Degrees Latitude in “Decimal Degrees” format---our preferred format. If we used those
coordinates in “Degrees Minutes Seconds” format, they first, have to be converted to “Decimal
Degrees” format. We can do this with another tool that you will have a chance to use.
The coordinate conversion tool is specifically made for converting “Degrees Minutes Seconds”
format to “Decimal Degrees” format. To access the coordinate conversion tool, be sure you click
on STEP 3: MAP AND PREVIEW THE COORDINATES OF MY CHOSEN PLACE and click on
the link, “Click here if your coordinates are NOT in Decimal Degrees (ADVANCED USERS
ONLY!)” (See Figure A-7).
Figure A-7: Accessing the Coordinate Conversion Tool
Once you click access the coordinate conversion tool, you will be able to convert latitude and
longitude given in Degrees Minutes Seconds format to latitude and longitude given in Decimal
Degrees format---the format acceptable to the collaborative mapping application (See Figure A-8).
Note in the figure that, since the “Degree Minutes Seconds” longitude value from the Google
search has a negative sign in the front, we have to follow some special instructions on the
coordinate conversion tool (See Figure A-8 text circled on the right side). The instructions state to
leave out the negative sign and, instead change the hemisphere to “West,” if it isn’t already west.
Remember, the Western Hemisphere is in the “negative longitude” direction; and the Southern
Hemisphere is in the “negative latitude” direction. Fortunately, you don’t have to remember this
because the tools remind you. Anyway, the end result of the coordinate conversion tool is nearly
the same as the coordinates that were in “Decimal Degrees” to begin with.
Figure A-8: Conversion of “Degrees Minutes Seconds” Format Longitude to “Decimal
Degrees” Longitude (The Input is Boxed in Black. The Warning Circled at the Center-Right
Applied Because the “Degrees Minutes Seconds” Longitude Had a Negative Sign. The
Result is circled at the Bottom.
Obtaining Latitude and Longitude Coordinates by U.S. Street Address
If the location you specify is in the U.S. and you know its address, you can specify the
location by street address and the mapping application will automatically generate the
approximate latitude and longitude coordinates of that street address for you.
As an example, suppose we wanted to visit the White House in Washington, D.C. and
map it as a place or object that we want to visit. Well, we did a Google Search with the
words White House Address and eventually came up with the following:
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
With the special map tool, we found the White House and zoomed in even closer (Figure
A-9). From this, we can zoom in more and directly obtain more accurate “Decimal
Degrees” coordinates by clicking directly on the White House.
Figure A-9: Using the Address Search Tool to Zoom In and Obtain Latitude and
Access the U.S. address coordinate search tool by clicking on STEP 3: MAP &
PREVIEW THE COORDINATES OF MY CHOSEN PLACE and then click on the link,
“Click here if you need to get coordinates of a U.S. STREET ADDRESS” (Figure A-10).
Figure A-10: Accessing the Tool to Obtain Latitude and Longitude from a U.S.
The address search tool could be very picky and, sometimes, it will refuse to work. If that
is the case, try another address or leave out additional information such as suite number,
apartment number, etc. Try not to put punctuation marks such as periods and commas in
Obtaining Latitude and Longitude Coordinates by Knowing the Approximate Location on
If you can find the place or object you want to visit directly on a world map, you can
obtain latitude and longitude coordinates this way. First, be sure to go to the map by
clicking on STEP 3: MAP & PREVIEW THE COORDINATES OF MY CHOSEN
Remember, you can zoom in really close to many places and objects on the map. This
special map has been set up so when you click on any location on this special map, the
latitude and longitude coordinates will automatically be displayed for whatever location
you clicked on.
As an example, if you know the general location of something like the Statue of Liberty
in New York City. You can zoom into New York City until you find it; get as close as
possible by zooming in more, and then obtain very accurate latitude and longitude
coordinates by clicking right on it. This technique (Location by Selecting a Point on the
Map) generally works if you know where something is on a map. The Statue of Liberty is
in New York Harbor so we zoomed all the way into New York Harbor until we found it.
Then, we zoomed in as close as we could. When we were happy how close we were, we
mouse-clicked directly on top of the Statue of Liberty and copied down its coordinates in
“Decimal Degrees” (See Figure A-11 below). The coordinates were the following:
Latitude: 40.68915614801549 Degrees
Longitude: -74.04459536075592 Degrees
Figure A-11: Obtaining Latitude and Longitude Coordinates by Clicking on the
So with this special map tool and some general knowledge of a place or object’s location
on a world map, you can determine the latitude and longitude coordinates of your chosen